The British rock invasion of the mid-1960s had a profound effect on American music and the culture at large. For the first time in history, adolescents held sway over the record industry. By decade's end, the generation's influence extended to virtually all corners of the marketplace, and everything became more youthful. Kids no longer wanted to look grown up, and neither did adults. Fashion, car design, home furnishings, dancing, TV, hairstyles became much more sporty. Men who reached their mid-life crisis years eyed younger women as a way to revitalize their self-image. The sexual revolution was underway. Skirts shortened as sideburns and men's hair grew longer. [Photo above of Barbara Moore courtesy of Barbara Moore]
Interestingly, this trend wasn't limited to the U.S. Throughout Western Europe, the bachelor class was feeling its oats. In Europe, a new form of easy-listening music surfaced to meet the new tastes of happening men and women. Mood music had a distinctly brassy and cool feel—Peter Sellers meets Astrud Gilberto. The music wasn't to relax by but music to do just the opposite.
Hundreds of albums in this groovy category—a genre I call "swinging pop"—feature breezily arranged young male and female singers and sultry bands. Think Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66, Singers Unlimited and the Fifth Dimension. It's too easy to call this music "lounge." It clearly was designed to appeal to a young-adult male market in Europe.
The queen of this swinging-pop vocal sound was Barbara Moore. A first-call studio background singer, she was a member of the Anita Kerr Singers in 1966 as well as the Ladybirds, who sang backup on the BBC TV's Top of the Pops. Later in the 60's and '70s, Moore led her own swinging vocal group known as the Barbara Moore Singers, who recorded on many British pop singles, films and lounge albums as well as on sessions for commercial background music. [Photo of Barbara Moore, above, in 1966 courtesy of Barbara Moore]
Over time, I'll share more of this highly addictive European "swinging pop" with you. It's yet another genre I stumbled across while wandering around YouTube.
Here's Barbara Moore on the high notes on Should I from Stan Butcher's Birds and Brass (1966)...
Stan Butcher and his Birds and Brass - Should I - Barbara Moore - YouTube
Here's Moore (right, with glasses) singing behind Dusty Springfield with Madeline Bell (left) and Leslie Duncan (center) in 1967...
Dusty Springfield "I Don't want To Go On Without You" - YouTube
One of the finest albums by the Barbara Moore Singers is Voices in Latin (1968). Here's I've Walked Alone...
Voices In Latin - I've Walked Alone .1968 - YouTube
From Moore's Vocal Shades and Tones album in 1972, here's Fly Paradise...
Barbara Moore - Fly Paradise - YouTube
Here's Moore on the Roger Webb Sound in 1971 singing Sweet Thing...
Barbara Moore & Roger Webb - Sweet thing - YouTube
Here's Hot Heels from Barbara Moore's Vocal Shades and Tones in 1972...
Barbara Moore -- Hot Heels - YouTube
Here's an interview with Moore, including Moore conducting Fly Paradise...
Lorraine Bowen | Barbara Moore interview - YouTube
Here's Moore playing the piano in 2015 at Brighton Station. And you can visit her Facebook page here.
In addition to the Barbara Moore site (here), there's a blog post on her here.
Today is President's Day in the U.S. On this day at JazzWax, we celebrate Lester Young. Billie Holiday called him the President, which was shortened to Pres or Prez. She meant president of the tenor saxophone. If you know nothing about Young but would love to know why he's such a big deal, here it is in a nutshell:
Up until Young's solos in the Basie band in 1939 and '40 and more specifically his Aladdin small group leadership sides in the mid-1940s, the tenor saxophone was a gruff instrument that stood out by ferociously working up and down a song's chords with an assertive growl. Practitioners of this style included Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Ventura, Ben Webster, Budd Johnson, Arnett Cobb, Buddy Tate, Don Byas, Georgie Auld, Illinois Jacquet, Flip Phillips, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and others.
Young, by contrast, had a decidedly cooler approach to the instrument, and his drier approach influenced a generation of players, including Stan Getz, Lucky Thompson, Brew Moore, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Cooper, Bill Perkins, Dave Pell, Bill Holman and many others.
The way Marlon Brando changed acting, Mies van der Rohe changed architecture, Mark Rothko changed painting, Normal Mailer changed the novel, Frank O'Hara changed poetry and Helen Levitt changed photography, Young brought a new detachment to the tenor saxophone that favored space and forward velocity rather than tight rendering. His playing was the sound of a new emotionalism.
Here are four videos of Young. Happy Prez Day!
Here's Lester Young in 1944 in Jamin' the Blues (keep an eye on that porkpie hat)...
Bird, Bean, and Prez, et al (1950) - 2 of 2 - YouTube
Here's Young in 1957 on CBS's The Sound of Jazz in 1957 with Billie Holiday on Fine and Mellow (watch the rapport between Holiday and Young). The first saxophone solo is by Coleman Hawkins. The second is by Young, providing a perfect illustration of the differences between the two schools...
Billie Holiday - Fine And Mellow (Live CBS Studios 1957) - YouTube
And here's Young in 1958 at Art Ford's Jazz Party...
I'm taking a break this weekend. But I wouldn't leave you hanging. Here's a fascinating documentary on Art Pepper—Notes From a Jazz Survivor. The film provides a candid view of the alto saxophonist's struggles to keep his head above water and the role his wife, Laurie Pepper, played in giving him a reason to straighten up and fly right...
ART PEPPER: NOTES FROM A JAZZ SURVIVOR(1982) - YouTube
Stax Records was the South's answer to Motown and Atlantic, and the African-American response to the British Invasion and folk-rock. Founded in Memphis in 1957 by Jim Stewart and his sister, Estelle Axton, the company began as Satellite Records but changed its name in 1961. Jim and Estelle took the first two letters of their last names and combined them to form "Stax."
Looking back, the label's history divides into three general periods—the "deep soul" years from 1961 to Otis Redding's death in an air crash in 1967; the "fried funk" years from 1967 to the Wattstax concert in 1971; and the "mixed bag" years from 1972 to the label's bankruptcy in 1975, when Stax recorded country, folk, sunshine pop and even rock in an attempt to raise cash and fend off failure. [Photo above of Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart]
Three recent box sets trace these three important periods in the label's history:
Otis Redding: Live at the Whisky a Go Go, the Complete Recordings (Volt). This six-CD set was released in 2016, and the writer of the set's liner notes, Lynell George, won a 2017 Grammy earlier this year. The box covers six performance sets over three nights at Los Angeles's Whisky a Go Go in April 1966. The sound quality is fantastic, as is the backup band. The set vastly expands on the single album released by Atco in 1968, after Redding's death. At the Whisky, Otis unleashed a new style of earthy, emotional soul on a highly receptive and largely white audience. Gone was the mannered supper-club slickness and poised polish of most mass-market soul up until this point. While James Brown had already revolutionized soul with tight funk and coiffed attitude, Redding whipped audiences into a frenzy with a growling, sweaty rural energy that still leaves the listener breathless. High point: Redding's 10:08 cover of Brown's Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, in which he masterfully outdoes Brown, if that's even possible. Redding would become a national star after his appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in '67 and the release of Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay in 1968 after his passing. My only quibble is hearing many of the same songs across each Whisky set. Then again, each one has a slightly different hue. Go here.
Isaac Hayes: The Spirit of Memphis 1962-1976 (Stax). One of Stax's most influential and successful artists was Isaac Hayes, who hasn't really gotten his due yet. He was a songwriter, studio musician, producer, artist and a pioneer of longer-form soul. In this four-CD set, the box artfully provides a loving overview of an empowered soul visionary. Disc #1 features Hayes as a songwriter and producer on songs such as Sam and Dave's Soul Man. Disc #2 covers his years as an artist on Stax's Volt and Enterprise subsidiaries, a period that includes the Theme From Shaft. Disc #3 provides a taste of Hayes the cover artist. Disc #4 is a fascinating look at Hayes as orchestrator of long-form instrumental jams. Liner notes are by Robert Gordon, Mickey Gregory and Will Haygood. High points: (Disc #1) Billy Eckstine singing Stormy, Booker T. and the MG's Boot Leg and the Charmels As Long As I've Got You; (Disc #2) Theme From "The Men," The Look of Love and Rolling Down a Mountainside; (Disc #3) I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself, Never Gonna Give You Up and If Loving You Is Wrong; (Disc #4) Ike's Mood, Hung Up on My Baby and a 33:03 Do Your Thing. The set is certainly idiosyncratic, in that you're getting a small sampling of Hayes based on the producer's taste. But for those who may be unfamiliar with Hayes, it does the job. Go here.
Stax Singles Vol. 4: Rarities & Best of the Rest (Stax). Over the years, Concord has been releasing six-CD box sets of Stax's singles output from 1968 to the label's demise in 1975. The material that predates these boxes is owned by Atlantic, which purchased the distribution rights to the material in 1967 when Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton needed cash. The horrible financial impact of this deal became apparent to Stax only after Otis Redding's death. With his passing, the distribution deal was severed, and Stax lost its best hope of generating revenue. Atlantic owned all of the back catalog and Al Bell, Stax's new co-owner, had to develop an entirely new catalog of material with hopes that some of the singles would become big pop hits. Not enough did. In the third installment of Stax's post-'67 catalog (Vol. 1 was put out by Atlantic years ago), we hear a wide range of rarities that chart an interesting history. In addition to a disc of early '60s singles (I suppose through a deal with Rhino), much of the box is devoted to the 1967-'75 period. There's funk, gospel-soul and many artists you probably never heard of or didn't realize they recorded for the label. The list includes Billy Eckstine, Chico Hamilton, Delaney & Bonnie and a number of white groups and artists. High points: Ollie & the Nightingales' Girl, You Have My Heart Singing, the Staple Singers' Stay With Us, the Newcomers' Mannish Boy, Hot Sauce's Echoes From the Past, Jean Knight's Pick Up the Pieces, Johnnie Taylor's Stop Teasing Me and Issac Hayes's Type Thing. The 76-page booklet features terrific notes by Rob Bowman, Bill Belmont, Alec Palao and Lee Hildebrand. Go here.
JazzWax clips:Here's Otis Redding's Papa's Got a Brand New Bag...
Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag (Live / Set 2 / Sunday, April 10, 1966) - YouTube
In the early 1950s, with the 10-inch LP format on the rise, New York had a crew of jazz musicians who were superb studio swingers. They were dependable, driven and could really get feet tapping. Their watering hole was Charlie's Tavern on the west side of Seventh Avenue between 51st and 52nd St., in the Roseland Building. Since Charlie's banned known junkies to limit the theft of horns and fights that often followed, producers used the tavern as a place to recruit top studio musicians for recording sessions. [Photo at top of Eddie Bert courtesy of Eddie Bert]
The regulars who bided their time between record dates at Charlie's Tavern included Oscar Pettiford, Hal McKusick, Hank Jones, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Bill Crow, Teddy Charles, Barry Galbraith, Osie Johnson, Joe Puma, Dave Lambert and many others. [Photo above of Charlie's Tavern courtesy of Bill Crow]
Trombonist Eddie Bert was among them. From 1942 on, Eddie recorded relentlessly with virtually every major band and group. He's with Red Norvo at the famed Town Hall Concert of 1945 recorded live by Commodore Records. And that's Eddie’s trombone solo on Stan Kenton’s How High the Moon with June Christy in 1947. [Photo of Eddie Bert with Charlie Parker, courtesy of Eddie Bert]
In June 1953, Eddie recorded Kaleidoscope, his first leadership 10-inch album. Recorded for the New York arm of the Discovery label, the first four tracks featured Eddie Bert (tb), Duke Jordan (p), Sal Salvador (g), Clyde Lombardi (b) and Mel Zelnick (d). The second four tracks were recorded a month later in July and included Eddie Bert (tb), Vinnie Dean (as), Duke Jordan (p), Clyde Lombardi (b) and Art Mardigan (d).
The first four songs were Love Me or Leave Me, Little Train, Prelude to a Kiss and Conversation Piece. The second set were Interwoven, Around Town, Kaleidoscope and Broadway.
Eddie was a full-throttle player. A bebopper who admired Charlie Parker, Eddie was a lyrical but forceful soloist. Swing was everything to Eddie, as he told me when we had drinks, and he brought a commitment and passion to the music that exceeded many other trombonists. He also knew his way around the slide. The first four tracks feature wonderful interplay between Eddie and guitarist Sal Savador. The second set showcase Eddie and alto saxophonist Vinnie Dean. Interestingly, both musicians were with Stan Kenton's band at the time and likely were in between New York gigs with the orchestra. For example, on June 6, 1953, Kenton was on an NBC broadcast. On the 10th, Salvador and Dean recorded wth Eddie. And on July 8, Kenton was recorded on the road in Chicago. Pianist Duke Jordan on all tracks is stupendous.
Eddie Bert died in 2012.
You can read my multi-part interview with Eddie Bert in 2007 starting here. When you click, you'll arrive at Part 1. Subsequent parts can be found by scrolling to the top and clicking on the link above the red date.
JazzWax tracks: You'll find Eddie Bert's Kaleidoscope (Fresh Sound) here. The album includes tracks from the original 10-inch LP plus unreleased Discovery tracks from 1954 and 1959, including a live 17:33 version of Kaleidoscope.
Pianist Harold Mabern has been known for his sideman work. In the 1960s and '70s, he was on Hank Mobley's Dippin', Lee Morgan's The Gigolo, Jackie McLean's Consequence, Blue Mitchell's Bring It Home to Me, Gene Ammons's The Black Cat and Stanley Turrentine's Don't Mess With Mr. T to name a few. Starting in 1968, Mabern also began recording leadership albums with horn players such as George Coleman, Blue Mitchell, Virgil Jones, Lee Morgan, Hubert Laws, among others.
Then in June 1978, Mabern dropped the brass and began recording albums with a trio and solo. The shift allowed the listener to hear the radiant warmth of his playing combined with the intensity of his percussive keyboard technique. The first of these smaller leadership dates was Pisces Calling. Recorded for the Trident label, the album featured Mabern on piano, electric piano and synthesizer; Jamil Nasser on bass and Walter Bolden on drums.
The tracks are Pisces Calling, The Lyrical Cole-Man, Waltzing Westward, Too Late to Fall Back Baby and Edward Lee. All of the songs were composed by Mabern, except the title track. That one is by Keno Duke, a drummer who played often with Mabern in the '70s and recorded three albums with him.
Mabern's fingering is commanding and lyrical throughout the album. His chords here are hurled like a fistful of darts, and there's an urgent snap to his playing. His use of three different keyboards on different songs provides the album with texture. Interestingly, Mabern uses the keyboard synthesizer on Too Late to Fall Back Baby to add the sound of horns behind his electric piano.
After Pisces Calling, Mabern's albums continued to showcase the pianist's dazzling aggressive style and rich chord voicings. These albums included Joy Spring (1984/solo), Straight Street (1989) and Philadelphia Bound (1991-'92/solo and duet). All represented a new level of confidence and elegance in Mabern's music.
JazzWax tracks: Harold Mabern's Pisces Calling was released on vinyl (Trident) and then re-issued on CD in Japan in 2009. The fact that it's now out of print is nothing short of a crime. Hopefully someone will reissue this one.
The jazz-rock fusion movement of the late 1960s and '70s elevated electronic instruments, particularly the guitar and keyboards. But while the rock guitar, Fender Rhodes electric piano and synthesizers were front and center in many fusion bands, the saxophone experienced a rebirth in the parallel soul-jazz movement. Sidelined as a solo rock instrument since the rise of the electric guitar in the mid-'50s, the saxophone was once again featured prominently raised its visibility by covering hit songs of soul vocalists. The move was an effort by labels to win slots on FM radio playlists in urban markets. Reed players from Grover Washington Jr. and Hank Crawford to Lou Donaldson and Stanley Turrentine had hit records in the soul-jazz era.
One saxophonist who pioneered the feel of soul-jazz without smoothing out his sound was Gene "Jug" Ammons. From 1969 and into the early '70s, Ammons retained his big bossy sound but ground in and became funkier. Albums such as The Boss Is Back! (1969), Night Lights (1969), The Black Cat (1970), My Way (1971), Got My Own (1972), You Talk That Talk! (1972) and others featured Ammons with a deep, rich wailing sound. Many other artists didn't quite get the same feel.
One of my favorite Ammons albums from this period is Brother Jug! Recorded for Prestige in November 1969, the album featured Sonny Phillips (org), Billy Butler (g), Bob Bushnell (el-b), and Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (d) on most of the tracks. The sidemen here are standouts. Of note are Sonny Phillips, a soul-jazz organist who needs a re-evaluation, and Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, one of the most in-demand pop and soul studio drummers from the 1960s and beyond.
Of all of the Ammons recordings from this period, this one is my favorite. It's a flawless recording, mixing R&B hits (Song of a Preacher Man, He's a Real Gone Guy) with pop ballads (Didn't We and Blue Velvet), and two terrific soul-jazz originals by Ammons—Jungle Strut and Ger-Ru. The latter tune was recorded for The Boss Is Back! and featured Junior Mance (p), Buster Williams (b), Frankie Jones (d) and Candido (conga).
Brother Jug! was produced by Bob Porter. Gene Ammons died in 1974.
JazzWax tracks: You'll find Gene Ammons's Brother Jug! (Prestige) here combined with The Boss Is Back!
Jungle Strut's rhythm-section riff seems to be an adaptation of James Brown's There Was a Time, from 1968. Here's Brown with Sammy Davis Jr. on the Hollywood Palace in 1969. Listen to the rhythm section...
james brown dancing. with sammy davis jr - YouTube
In The Wall Street Journal this week, I interviewed former Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno (go here) for my "House Call" column in the Mansion section. Apolo talked about how he went the youngest top-ranked skater in 1997 to rock bottom a year later after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics to winning gold and silver medals in the 2002 Winter Games. An amazing comeback story and how he did it. Here's a clip of how Apolo won the silver medal in the 1,000-meter race in 2002 ...
Apolo Ohno | Great Moments In Team USA History - YouTube
Also in the WSJ, my "Playlist" interview with Danish crime novelist Sara Blaedel on how Paul Simon's Hurricane Eye convinced her to quit her job in 2003 to become an author (go here). Sara's latest book is The Undertaker’s Daughter.Here she is a couple of years ago talking about The Forgotten Girls...
You and Me talks to Sara Blaedel - YouTube
Spotted at the public library in Alpharetta, a suburb of Atlanta, my book, Anatomy of a Song. Walter Croft snapped this one and sent it along.
To Marlene Verplanck, from pianist Jan Lundgren, with love. Guy Jones, who runs the Friends of Jan Lundgren web page in Sweden, sent along a link to Jan's thoughts on the late singer Marlene VerPlanck and trumpeter Hugh Masekela (go here). Here's the remarkable Jan Lundgren playing excerpts from his album History of Piano Jazz, which you can find here, at iTunes or Spotify...
Jan Lundgren - History of Piano Jazz | Teaser 2013 - YouTube
No. 1, worldwide. Jim Eigo of Jazz Promo Services sent along a link to something called The Pudding, which has mapped the No. 1 song in 3,000 cities and counties in the world. As best I can tell, the most interesting, heart-felt music is coming out of Africa. Go here.
John Perry Barlow, the Grateful Dead lyricist, died at age 70 on Feb. 7. Chris "King" Cowles dedicated two hours of his "Greasy Tracks" radio show on WRTC in Hartford, Ct., to Barlow last week (go here and click to start the audio at the top of the page).
Here's Chris's playlist...
Hour 1 Feel Like A Stranger — Grateful Dead
I Need A Miracle — Grateful Dead/Lowell George
Lazy Lightning/Supplication — Dark Star Orch. Black-Throated Wind — Grateful Dead
Cassidy — Grateful Dead
Blow Away — Grateful Dead
Wrong Way Feelin' — Bob Weir Band
Hour 2 Throwing Stones — Grateful Dead
Walk in the Sunshine — Bob Weir
Lost Sailor/Saint of Circumstance — The Dead Let It Grow — Grateful Dead
Picasso Moon — Grateful Dead
Hell in a Bucket — Grateful Dead
What the heck.Here's Eddie Holman singing Hey There Lonely Girl, his #2 Billboard pop hit in 1969. What ever happened to romantic soul?...
Hey There Lonely Girl - Eddie Holman - YouTube
Oddball album cover of the week.
Love arranger Ray Ellis, but this cover has #MeToo written all over it. Mind you, it's not the Playboy Club but some sort of male fantasy about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Or maybe it is the Playboy Club.
Bill Evans changed in early 1972. The pianist who had looked like a gaunt accountant in the 1960s sported a mustache by 1971. A year later, his hair was college-campus long. He also sounded different. Instead of playing with poetic patience and lots of space, Evans sounded more agitated in his keyboard attack. This visual and artistic transformation has been attributed to a wide range of factors, from fusion's atmospheric influence to his growing frustration with the pianos he had to play while touring more extensively and his increased use of cocaine. Whatever the reasons, a marked intensity and crankiness had crept into his music.
Two videos give us rare glimpses into this newly emerging Evans, a period hat I've referred to in liner notes as his "percussive poet" phase. The first video features Evans around February 1972 in Paris in front of a live audience, with Eddie Gomez on bass and Marty Morell on drums. It's film that may have been for a French TV show called Jazz Session...
Bill Evans Trio Paris 1972 Jazz Session Averty & Lion - YouTube
The second video was taped with Gomez and Morrel in late June or July 1972. The show was called The Jazz Set and aired on public television in New Jersey. In an interview during the show, Evans refers to his forthcoming Living Time album for Columbia with George Russell. He says that he and Russell had just mixed it. Since the album was recorded in May '72, the time frame here is likely early summer...
Bill Evans In the Jazz Set (1972 Live Video) - YouTube
Bonus:Here's Blood, Sweat & Tears playing Bill Evans's Time Remembered...